Volume 10, Number 8
Ten Leadership Characteristics
by Danny Cox
Mr. Cox, a professional speaker in Tustin, California (phone
800-366-3101; email Mach175@aol.com).
He is author of Leadership
When The Heat's On (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1992).
No organization can rise above the quality of its leadership.
Because leadership is a position that must be earned day in and
day out, there are important personal choices that both new and
experienced leaders must make on a regular basis. Effective
leaders are, first and foremost, effective people.
Personal ethics can't be separated from professional ethics.
Therefore, the character of the leader is essential. The following
list of ten characteristics is a valuable guide for leadership.
In addition, it results in a quality life.
1. A high standard of personal ethics leads the list.
Honest Abe Lincoln, who walked miles to return a customer's
change, is a classic example of how personal ethics are reflected
in professional conduct. Decisions made under pressure and/or
temptation separate the great ones from the impostors.
2. High energy. Great leaders are not exhausted by dealing
with petty issues. These people know right from wrong as well as
the difference between what's truly important and what's merely
3. The ability to work priorities shares equal importance with
setting priorities. Many brilliant priority lists end up in
the landfill of life. The difference between setting priorities
and working them through is the difference between a dreamer and a
4. Courage. The willingness to take risks and accept
responsibility for the outcome is a consistent quality among
effective leaders. Either you or your fears will control
everything you do. An organization will be no bolder than the
5. Committed and dedicated hard working leaders will eventually
develop dedicated and hard working organizations regardless of who
they start with or the experience they bring to the job.
6. Unorthodox leaders have an urge to create and don't have the
patience to wait for a phone to ring before acting. Effective
leaders are innovators who bore easily and prefer shaping tomorrow
to repeating yesterday.
7. Great leaders have the goal orientation to make tough
decisions. Goal orientation produces a drive and energy that
shield us from the pain of the task. Keeping an organization
focused increases efficiency.
8. Inspired enthusiasm is like the pilot light on the oven.
Genuine enthusiasm is contagious. People look to their leaders for
enthusiasm. The inspiration level of the organization is directly
proportionate to the enthusiasm of the leader--be it high or low.
9. Level-headed people make realistic leaders who respond to
problems rather than simply react. A leader who can stay cool
under pressure inspires confidence among those in the organization
and empowers them to do the same.
10. The desire to help others succeed is the mark of a truly
great leader. Synergy is created when a leader truly invests
his or her efforts in the success of others. Zig Ziglar says it
like this, "People don't care how much you know until they
know how much you care about them."
Whether you're trying to increase your own effectiveness as a
leader or are trying to develop leadership talent within your
organization, keep studying the characteristics of those you
consider to be great leaders.
Remember that leadership is an art, not a science, and the
difference between a genuinely effective leader and a short-term
motivator can be found in the personal decisions an individual
makes when choosing how to live his or her life. Long-term
commitment to the principles described above will produce an
effective leader and, over time, an inspired organization.